The Flags of our Fathers will be on my favorite books of 2018. What an unforgettable, amazing and brutal battle took place in Iwo Jima involving ordinary men (many were merely boys, actually) tasked with extraordinary responsibilities to fight the cruelest of enemies. This book covers the story of the six men (two were misidentified initially) who were in the iconic photo of the flag raising in Mt. Suribachi, from their humble beginnings to the end of their courageous lives.
My grandfather was a WW2 veteran and a Bataan death march and concentration camp survivor. He experienced the vile cruelty imposed by the ruthless Japanese soldiers onto their enemies. To his dying breath, he never changed his opinion about the Japanese people. After reading this book, I understand better now why he never seemed to have overcome his hatred of them. The military under Hirohito fought unfairly, mercilessly and almost devoid of humanity. I also see clearly why the atom bombs had to be used to break their morale. It was the only way to stop their mass killings of innocent people, and their unfair, unethical (i.e., against the generally accepted rules of war since nothing about wars is ethical at all) fighting tactics in Asia and the Pacific. It is hard to believe that this is the same peaceful people whom we now respect and consider to be one of our strongest allies.
The narrative that led to the invasion and the subsequent events after were some of the best storytelling I’ve read in awhile. I look forward to reading more by this author and watching the Clint Eastwood film adaptations.